Should a cox sit still in a boat?

Should a cox sit still in a boat, or move so that the boat pulses under him, if he is coxing near stroke? Without a back support it might be tiring to sit still.
It can be shown that the boat may be faster if it is heavier than the required minimum. 21kg rather than 14 kg for a single! The reason for this is that a heavier boat will pulse less.
A cox lying in the bow of some boats becomes part of the boat weight, A cox sitting in the stern, however, can choose to become boat or crew weight.
Sliding rigger boats would pulse a lot less than our normal sliding seat boats and be faster. They are therefore banned in our rowing competitions.

We got this question in the comments after Tim Edsell’s RowignChat interview published.

Cox hand position for rowing.
Cox hand position for rowing.

Tim replies

Thank you for the great question.

It is recommended that the cox “anchor” themselves to the boat.  “Anchoring” yourself to the boat involves 3 things: 

  1. Set your feet to the foot rest. 
  2. Engage your core/abdominal muscles and
  3. Support your torso by having your arms/hands firmly holding the gunwales (top edge) of the shell. 

By doing these three things you should prevent you from “pulsing” with the movement of the boat.

Some coxswains lean a bit forward.  A possible issue with this position is the cox decreases their field of view and must lean to one side or the other to check their point.  Or, the cox must lift their head (and possibly their torso) up to see where they are heading.  A cox should minimize as much of their movement as possible when doing pieces at race pace and/or when racing.

To prevent any sores developing along the back (usually caused by lots of check and not keeping yourself anchored to the shell), I suggest finding some very lightweight foam which you may tape to the back edge of the coxswains seat.  You may need to experiment with which foam density works best for you.

A cox should consider doing lots of abdominal exercises to strengthen their core.  Having a strong core (maybe as strong as the rowers) will prevent that muscles from fatiguing during a long practices or race.

Hope this helps!

One thought on “Should a cox sit still in a boat?

  1. graham cawood says:

    I have just watched the 2003 Oxford vs Cambridge boatrace, which Oxford won by about 1/2 metre.
    The Oxford cox was anchored to, and part of, the boat throughout. The Cambridge cox, however, was moving as the boat pulsed.
    If he had been anchored to the boat,becoming part of its weight, and reduced its pulsing, could Cambridge have won?
    A boat weighs about 90kg. Adding a 60 kg cox, or not, could make a difference,

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